This is a guest post by Gwendolyn Kolfschoten. Gwendolyn is an expert on collaboration, facilitation and group processes. As a researcher at Delft University of Technology, department of Technology Policy and Management, she studied collaboration processes for a decade. She was also a visiting scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at the Engineering Systems Division. She has published many academic articles on collaboration and on tools and technologies to support group work, among them four dimensional framework about developing facilitation techniques that this post is about. Currently, Gwendolyn is the founder a company dedicated to supporting effective collaboration and the author of the book Effective Collaboration.
Like a real craftsman, each facilitator has a toolbox, a toolbox with instruments, methods and techniques to support groups in achieving their goals. Groups typically have two types of goals. First, groups bond, they form a team; develop relations, trust, culture, common ground and mutual understanding, as a basis for effective collaboration. However, ultimately, groups work together towards a joint goal. In the end, groups are mostly formed to create joint results, outcomes that require the expertise, skills, insights, experiences and creative ideas of the members of the group in order to solve complex problems. Such results often require support from stakeholders involved, and therefore they should be based on consensus and shared understanding.